Center for the History of Global Development


Ida Milne (Carlow College) - 18 June 2020

Spanish Flu and Covid-19: Same Old History?

How can the study of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic inform the Covid-19 pandemic?  Over the past few months, Irish historian Dr Ida Milne has been interviewed extensively in media about how pandemic influenza impacted on Irish society in 1918-19, and what parallels can be drawn. From statistics to show that public events caused increases in infection, to the contracting of trade, and the short and long term impact on sufferers and their families, the history of the earlier pandemic could and did inform the current crisis.  In this talk she explores the parallels, showing the practical applications of humanities to a medical crisis.


Jenia Mukherjee (Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur)  30 April 2020

Is COVID 19 a ‘Capitalocene’ Challenge? Some Reflections from Indian Cities

Working at the intersections between environmental humanities and urban studies, the speaker will contextualize COVID 19 as the ‘Capitalocene’ challenge, arguing why this framework can provide a better edge to understand global pandemics. The larger understanding that COVID 19 is a ‘neo-liberal disease’ and ‘wicked problem’, deeply embedded in material and cultural fabric of our times, will then drive the second part of the lecture focusing on the Indian urban scene. Drawing examples from the Indian cities, the talk will demonstrate how densely packed urban environments with weak infrastructures and utilities can turn the corona hazard into a disaster. The most marginalized, inhabiting ‘informal’ settlements will be the worst sufferers from the outbreak of coronavirus with continued and spiral effects during the pre-outbreak, outbreak and post-outbreak stages.


Iris Borowy.mp3 (92.02MB)
Iris Borowy.mp3 (92.02MB)

Iris Borowy (Shanghai University) - 23 April 2020

Pandemics and Development: From History to – Possible - Future

In the course of just four months Covid-19 has thrown the world into disarray in ways that were unimaginable before, upsetting privates lives, governmental policies and economic systems. This talk looks at some of the connections between epidemics and development. Drawing on historical precedents, this talk will explore how epidemics have affected global developments in the past (what does smallpox have to do with the industrial revolution?) and considers some of the repercussions Covid-19 may have on short and long term development. How is it likely to affect food, living conditions and climate change? Are there opportunities in crisis?